Missing Kids

Today is the first day of a new school year here in the overly-large school district and the Washington Post, making one of it’s occasionally passes at playing a local newspaper, documents some of our changes. Actually, beyond a few numbers about how big we are, most of the article reads like excerpts from a press release about the superintendent’s Portrait of a Graduate project.

Anyway, I’ve ranted about the portrait a few times in this space but there’s one major problem with this plan that I don’t think can be repeated enough.

The “portrait” concept developed under the guidance of a 70-member task force of parents, teachers, principals and local corporate executives.

Seventy people and they didn’t bother to include any future graduates. No recent graduates. No students who dropped out of school. Not one member of the group that this plan will most directly impact.

However, there’s nothing unique about our district in this regard. Look at the whole school reform movement in this country and you will find few if any student voices. We have lots of politicians, rich business people, news personalities, philanthropists, technologists, occasionally a teacher or two, all manner of adults with proposals for “fixing” our “broken” education system.

But we never seriously include the kids themselves when making important decisions about their education.

And anything called “reform” will be meaningless until that changes.

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